OALD6 defines quantity as "an amount or a number of sth", which means quantity cannot be used for people. But I read the entry of "number" in Macmillan and found:
5b any number of sth: a large quantity of people or things There could be any number of reasons why he's not at home.
Then I searched the DICTIONARY.COM web pages and found 407 results for "large quantities of people" and 298 results of "a large quantity of people".
Can we use "large quantities of people" and "a large quantity of people"?
Last edited by joham; 30-Apr-2008 at 11:26. Reason: a spelling mistake.
Yes, depending on the context.
Large quantities of people have gone away for the holiday.
A large quantity of people has been trapped in the metro.
I personally do not like "large quantity of people" - quantity = something that is measurable in number, amount, size, or weight - and is not a word generally associated with"people"; number/numbers is more suitable.
The British National Corpus returns nothing from a search for the phrase.